Pastor Ralph J. Mineo, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church
A young child came home from the first day of school. A parent’s first questions was, “Did you learn anything today?” The child answered: “Not enough! I have to go back again tomorrow!” Of course the child would have to go back to school again and again, to learn more, to grow more!
I think the best word we have for this is “progress.” One translation of the Bible puts it that way about Jesus in Luke, chapter 2: “Jesus, for his part, progressed steadily in wisdom and age and grace before God and the people.” The apostle Peter closed his practical letters with a call for disciples to grow: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18).
Growing in “wisdom and knowledge and grace” is an important part of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Being committed to to a life of faith, is a commitment to life-long learning and growth. “Discipleship School” is for life! It doesn’t end at a certain age. We don’t graduate or ever call it quits!
Of course, one way we grow spiritually is to return to the Bible, again and again. Learning and growing becomes a habit. (When we backslide, we can always return!) We could read every word of the Bible, cover to cover, and still, like a child starting school, we would return again. The Bible is a “living word” which applies to us in new ways at different times.
The beginning of a new calendar year is a traditional time for making resolutions. The reason for that is that we realize our need to grow, improve, progress. We might evaluate the past year asking, “How much did I grow last year?” But we do well to ask “How can I grow more in the coming weeks, months, years?” (Though our modern culture is putting less and less priority on weekly worship, how many can honestly say, “I grow more spiritually, and am spiritually fed, when I skip weekly worship?”)
There is no doubt in my mind: the Holy Spirit calls us to grow spiritually. Reading the Bible, daily devotions, regular prayer, and weekly worship are “tried and true” ways to satisfy the inner longing we have to connect with God, and experience the “abundant life” Jesus promised.
So, let’s say a person returns from worship, and someone asks, “Did you grow spiritually today?” A reasonable answer may well be, “Not enough! I’m going back next Sunday!”